Things to See and Do

Greymouth (Mawhera)

Greymouth (Mawhera)

Grey in name but not in nature!  In January 1848 on a visit to Greymouth, Thomas Brunner journeyed up the river which he later named the Grey River to honour the then Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. In 1868 the town took the name Greymouth from its situation at the mouth of the Grey River.

Today Greymouth is the geographic and commercial heart of the West Coast and the largest town. You’ll find the town surrounded by lush green hills to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west. It’s central location makes it an ideal base to explore the beautiful region of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.

A small rural town, you’ll find all the key amenities and services you may require while on the West Coast. Greymouth boasts a good range of accommodation including seaside holiday parks, modern and well equipped motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts and backpacker accommodation. You’ll find an easy accommodation match to suit all budgets.

Experience a visual feast of jade carving at Shades of Jade and photography at the Stewart Nimmo gallery, both located within Greymouth’s town centre. You’ll also find a great selection of cafés, restaurants and boutique shopping, perfect for a coffee or retail fix. Other amenities include the Grey District Aquatic Centre with swimming pools, hydroslides, spa and sauna, History House Museum, full of local and regional treasures and the Regent Theatre, the district’s newly modernised 3D cinema.

You’ll be amazed by the rare katabatic wind formation that sweeps through Greymouth, known locally as the ‘Barber’. It is one of only a few locations around the world where this occurs, a beautiful but chilly attraction as in the image above.


History and Heritage

The first dwellings at the Grey River mouth were constructed by Ngati Wairangi Maori at Cobden. Later this site was abandoned in preference for a south bank location known as Mawhera Pa. It became an important settlement of Poutini Ngai Tahu.

A plaque close to the Cobden road bridge at the entrance to Greymouth records that this was the place where Poutini Ngai Tahu signed the ‘Deed of Purchase’ for the West Coast in 1860. The transaction was carried out in the presence of James Mackay, the Government agent of the time. Today much of the town’s central business district remains Maori land.

European settlement followed the discovery of coal and gold. In July 1865, Rochford’s early surveyed grid of the town was forgotten and the river front became the real axis. Virtually the entire business section crowded along the crescent of Richmond and Mawhera Quays, giving rise to ‘Crescent City’ as an early name for Greymouth.

While the town expanded and changed, it was always vulnerable to the forces of nature, and successive floods wreaked havoc. Early European settlement was based around the goldfields and the coal mines and the town grew rapidly. Fires and floods have destroyed many early records, but many ‘old Greymouth’ buildings still remain. Following two major floods in 1988, the Greymouth Flood wall was begun. Completed in 1990, it stands as a symbol of defiance against the threat of flooding from the mighty Grey River. The wall not only provides security for the town, but also offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the town’s heritage on foot.

The Greymouth Heritage Trust are a dedicated group of local people working to preserve the heritage and history of the Grey District. For more information please visit their website by clicking here.

Search Grey District

Find things to do, places to visit, accommodation and more.

Grey in name but not in nature! Explore Greymouth

A busy rural town, Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and the hub of corporate and commercial activity. Under that... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Relax and rejuvenate at beautiful Lake Brunner

The small lakeside village of Moana offers a range of accommodation, 9 hole golf course, yacht club and more. Sit back and enjoy... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Try something fun, unique & quintessentially West Coast

Forge your own knife at Barrytown knifemaking. Carve your own piece of pounamu at Barrytown Jade. Visit Blackball’s famous... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

An event is a great reason to visit!

There is always plenty to do in the Grey District! Bring your bike in January for the ‘Around Brunner Cycle Race’, join in... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Adrenaline fix or family adventure, fun for all ages!

Have a Wild West kayaking, rafting, zipline or glow worm adventure. Visit On Yer Bike! for some hagglund, quadbike or go kart... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Rain or shine explore the rainforest, feel refreshed and invigorated!

With 65% of the district covered in Department of Conservation land, there are a great number of short walks, single and multi... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Monteiths Brewery – Internationally renowned & iconic West Coast

With over 150 years experience in brewing, Monteiths Brewery is iconic with the West Coast of the South Island. Located in... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

West Coast Wilderness Trail – Now open!

Experience New Zealand’s most welcoming cycle trail! Officially opening on 23 November the West Coast Wilderness Trail... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Experience one of the world’s great train journeys the TranzAlpine

 The TranzAlpine train journey is a spectacular, world class train trip travelling from Christchurch to Greymouth and... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Discover amazing stories of riches, rogues, myths and legends!

Enjoy amazing tales of our early settlers and the trials and tribulations they faced living on the West Coast. Visit Shantytown... Read More

View all the Top 10 Things to do >

Greymouth Sunday Markets

This weekly market operates every Sunday from 9-1pm at the Tai Poutini Polytechnic atrium at 73 Tainui Street,... Read more

Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race

The Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race is held annually on the Sunday of Labour Weekend. This event is an iconic must see! Eight... Read more

Around Brunner Cycle Ride

Around Brunner is a 130 km sealed circuit cycle ride which takes cyclists through some of the most stunning scenery the West Coast of... Read more

View all events
See travel reviews on
Trip Advisor
Join us on
Facebook Twitter Youtube
Copyright 2014 | Web design by